mic, microphone, sound check

Jenna

CONTENT WARNING: Drugs, Alcohol, Suicide

My story starts at quite an early age. I’m 32 now but my first official mental health diagnosis was that of depression when I was 13 or 14. I was prescribed medication and embarked on a number of counselling sessions from there on in. 

I think it all began with some significant changes at home, my parents got divorced, we had to move house, and life at school began to get tough for me as I was bullied for my red hair. I genuinely felt like I didn’t fit in anywhere in the world and had such a sense of self loathing I genuinely didn’t want to anything with my life or even be around other people for fear of ridicule. A chain of events happened around my early teens which was out of my control and this ended up in me using drugs. Drugs were a huge part of my life for many years, I used as much as I could to escape. I no longer felt any of the negative feelings I had towards myself, it numbed the pain and masked my insecurities. 

I felt like drugs were the answer to all of my problems so I continued to use anything and everything I could in order to make myself feel better. I was self medicating, but in reality and in the long run I was just causing myself more misery and harm and eventually it caught up with me. Over time I stared to have panic attacks. I genuinely thought I was going to die on more than one occasion. I had this idea that at any second my brain would have a burst blood vessel or my heart would explode inside my chest and I couldn’t catch my breath. Whether this was anxiety or drugs I don’t know, perhaps a mixture of both – whatever it was, it was the scariest experience of my life. Along side this I was experiencing psychosis which was petrifying! I could hear voices and was seeing all sorts of things out of the corner of my eye… I thought demons were following me and had this belief for a while that I was the devil hidden inside a human shell. I hated myself. I was very unwell for many years but I managed to hide it relatively well. I am a singer, I love to sing – it’s genuinely the one thing that kept me alive sometimes. If I had a particularly bad day I would turn off the lights, lay in bed and hum songs to myself or play music through my headphones. It took my mind off the crazy thoughts and delusions I was having for a while.

This behaviour continued for me for around 17 years on and off. I would have periods in my life that were relatively ok and under control. I’d have a job and perhaps a boyfriend and outwardly I looked like I was holding it together. But generally, over time my mental health would deteriorate and I would again start to experience serious bouts of depression and anxiety. Just a few years ago I was sent for a mental health assessment and explained all of this past behaviour to a psychiatrist and was diagnosed with BPD. (Borderline Personality Disorder or EUPS Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder as it’s otherwise known) 
When I had the diagnosis, I was relieved that finally someone understood what I was going through. I was actually quite happy I was given an ‘answer’ which explained all of my mad behaviour. It worked as a positive and a negative because now I had a name for my condition, I also had an excuse for my outrageous behaviour. 

My drug use continued and again got out of control. This time around I was using harder substances and I really got myself into a state. I was homeless, jobless and seriously unhealthy. Thankfully I was emergency housed with the council and began attending MIND which helped a little, but my drug problem was worsening and my mental health deteriorating. 
It was getting quite dark and the thought of suicide began to seem more and more attractive every day, but instead of doing something drastic I reached out to an old friend for advice. I went to school with this girl and had seen her over the years through the drug scene. Her life was a bit like mine in the sense that she was also hooked on drugs and had no real sense of direction. However, I saw she had gotten clean. Somehow she’d managed to stop taking drugs and from the look of her Facebook profile she was actually enjoying life again. I was amazed and in total awe of her and for the first time I felt a bit of hope. 

I thought ‘if she can do it maybe I can’ so I messaged her and asked her how she was doing and what had been going on for her. She explained to me that she was attending regular NA (Narcotics Anonymous) meetings and she was no longer using drugs or drinking alcohol and life had become a lot easier for her. I wanted what she had!! I didn’t realise that there were meetings all over the country and that there are genuine people out there who didn’t drink or take drugs…. It was really alien to me to think that there were clean, sober people out there actually enjoying life. But I took her word for it (I had nothing to lose by this point) and started to attend regular NA meetings. 

By this point I truly had had enough of feeling depressed, useless, psychotic, suicidal, anxious and fed up so I had a serious word with myself and dug deep. My desire to stop using drugs was strong and it was fuelled by the amazing people I was seeing in these NA meetings. I genuinely feel that these folk and this organisation saved my life. I’ve worked incredibly hard to get to this point. And as I write this today, I am 1 year, 1 month and 21 days clean of any and all mind altering substances. (That includes alcohol) My story is that mental health and drug use go hand in hand. It’s not the same for everyone, but now that I’ve had some time to work out who I am and what I want from life with a completely clear head, I’ve realised that a lot of my mental health problems were/are drug induced. 

I still have off days and I’m not totally ‘cured’ but I’m able to be human today and react to things in a healthy way. I would urge anyone who’s suffering to have a think about their drug and alcohol intake and seek help if they feel they have a problem. 

It’s working for me and for so many others. I really hope that someone reads this and identifies with my story. 

Recovery is possible 🙏❤️

Thanks for taking the time to read! 
Lots of love 💕 
Jenna

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